Madonna's history of religious provocation makes her unsuitable for a possible halftime stint at Super Bowl XLVI, according to Catholic League President Bill Donohue.
"The NFL would do well to drop any plans it may have about inviting Madonna to perform during the Super Bowl," Donohue said in an Oct. 4 response to rumors of a planned performance. "For decades, Madonna has blatantly offended Christians, especially Catholics. The offensive lyrics, lewd behavior and misappropriation of sacred symbols are reason enough not to have her perform."
"Worse, she has repeatedly mocked the heart and soul of Christianity: Jesus, Our Blessed Mother, the Eucharist and the Crucifixion."
The sports website SB Nation reported on Oct. 3 that next February's halftime entertainment would feature the controversial pop star, who was expected to appear at the 1998 and 2000 games but ultimately did not. Neither the National Football League nor Madonna has confirmed what SB Nation heard from "sources close to the event."
In recent years, Madonna has been more closely associated with the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah than with her childhood Catholicism. On her 2006 "Confessions tour," however, she performed one song while suspended from a mirrored cross and wearing a crown of thorns, harking back to her 1980s reputation for using Catholic imagery in a highly sexual context.
The Catholic League president said the NFL would be wise to steer clear of controversy during halftime, as it has since Janet Jackson's embarrassing 2004 "wardrobe malfunction."
After that February 2004 incident, Donohue recalled, the football league had begun exercising more caution in its halftime entertainment choices.
"In 2004, the NFL invited 'N Sync's JC Chasez to sing during the halftime of the Pro Bowl game. When Chasez said he was going to sing his latest single, 'Some Girls (Dance with Women),' the NFL objected, citing the sexual lyrics that may offend viewers."
At that time, Chasez agreed to sing a different song, which would have to be lyrically censored. Ultimately, Donohue recalled, "the NFL … reconsidered the propriety of having Chasez sing altogether, and decided to withdraw the invitation."
The National Football league, Donohue reasoned, should not violate this precedent by inviting a more controversial performer than Chasez, to a much more important game than the Pro Bowl.
"Chasez may be known for some dicey lyrics, but he is chopped meat compared to Madonna," the Catholic League president said. "If JC Chasez is unacceptable to the NFL to perform during halftime at one of its classic games, Madonna must be deemed unacceptable to perform at the Super Bowl."
When it comes to cultural sensitivities, Donohue said the National Football League "cannot expect Catholics to be treated any different" than other groups: "There is only one playbook in this game."